ABU DHABI // At least 14 people were injured in a 57-car pile-up on both sides of the motorway between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain on Thursday, after a thick fog suddenly descended.
Traffic was brought to a complete halt on both sides after one of the UAE’s biggest road accidents, which started about 8.15am.
Emergency response workers redirected vehicles to alternative routes from Al Yahar and Rimah bridges.
Police reported one motorist was seriously hurt, while the rest suffered mild injuries. They were taken hospital as damaged vehicles were moved from the road.
Maj Salah Al Humairi, head of Al Ain traffic police, said the pile-up was caused by “low visibility and failure to observe a safe distance between vehicles on the road, as well as failure to reduce speed in changing weather conditions”.
Samer Ashour, a Jordanian who was driving to Al Ain for a meeting, was stuck in traffic for about an hour.
“I wasn’t near the crash but I heard from my friend that there were many, many cars involved,” Mr Ashour said. “At the time he thought about 100.
“Maybe it wasn’t that much but it definitely felt like that. My meeting, I was told, was cancelled because of the crashes.”
Thirty-nine vehicles in the pile-up were travelling towards Al Ain and 18 towards the capital.
Heavy fog along the route in the morning caused major tailbacks.
“The fog was really bad this morning,” said Mr Ashour. “I passed the area again at around 12pm and it seems to be completely clear now.”
Witnesses at the scene said drivers got out of their cars and tried to warn coming traffic of the danger.
Those in the pile-up were taken to nearby police stations to give statements for an investigation and insurance claims.
“There is one basic rule in bad weather and it is simple – keep your speed down and concentration up,” said Thomas Edlemann, founder of Road Safety UAE.
“Other steps you can take in foggy conditions is to put on the proper lights. Dimmed headlights and rear and front fog lights should be used.
“Especially important is to keep the proper distance from the car in the front of you. The golden rule is respect others and watch out for others.
“In all of these accidents, it is always the fault of the person who bumps into you from behind so you always have to drive at a speed that will enable you to stop in time.”
The pile-up was reminiscent of Fog Tuesday on March 11, 2008, when more than 200 cars crashed in the morning rush hour on Sheikh Zayed Road, near Ghantoot.
Four people died, 350 were injured and 20 cars burst into flames.